Australia will look to dump hosts India out of the World Twenty20 tournament on Sunday in a do-or-die clash between cricket’s two biggest teams.
A narrow win by India over Bangladesh, followed by Australia’s 21-run triumph against Pakistan, has effectively reduced Sunday’s group encounter into a knockout, with the winner making it to the semi-finals.
“We’ve got a massive game coming up against India, whoever wins that goes through,” said Australian paceman James Faulkner after Friday’s win against Pakistan.
“It was on our shoulders to turn the ship around and start winning.
“We have won two in a row, now we need to win another three to win the World Cup,” said the bowler, who picked a five-wicket haul against Pakistan, the first Australian to do so in T20 cricket.
Australia are the reigning 50-over world champions and the number one Test side but have failed to win the World T20 in five previous attempts.
If they do manage to win the trophy, this time around, it would be a fitting tribute to all-rounder Shane Watson, who is set to quit international cricket at the end of the tournament.
Watson was part of Australia’s World Cup triumphs in 2007 and 2015 and also starred during the team’s winning campaigns in the Champions Trophy finals of 2006 and 2009.
The Aussies have won two games in this T20 edition while going down to New Zealand, who have already qualified for the semis with three wins from as many matches.
India were also handed a thrashing by the Black Caps, who are sitting on top of Group 2 and clearly one of the better-looking sides in the tournament.
The home side bounced back to defeat arch-rivals Pakistan before pulling off a nerve-wracking one-run win against Bangladesh.
But despite the wins, India have not looked really convincing, a fact not lost on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Ashwin, who has been one of the standout bowlers for India, said the team would need to up their game if they are to entertain any hopes of winning the title for the second time.
India won the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007.
“We have not really batted the way where we would be really pleased with our performance,” said Ashwin.
“We are a very, very good batting unit. Once we fire on all cylinders we will be great contenders for the title. As of now, with the way things stand, I don’t think we are contenders.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.
Steven Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa